Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Sunday his country will carry out the second filling of its disputed Nile dam during heavy rainfall months of July and August, a step that has been of concern to Egypt and Sudan.
"Ethiopia has no intention of causing harm to lower riparian countries … Ethiopia is releasing more water from last year storage through newly completed outlets and sharing information," Ahmed claimed on Twitter.
The second filling will ensure "benefits in reducing floods in Sudan," he further said.
The decade-long dispute, caused by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) Addis Ababa has been building on the Blue Nile since 2011, has intensified recently between Cairo and Khartoum, on one side, and Addis Ababa, on the other, since the collapse of Kinshasa talks earlier this month.
Various rounds of African Union-sponsored talks to restart stalled negotiations, including the latest round in Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital of Kinshasa earlier in April, have failed to reach an agreement and asking for persuade Ethiopia against taking any unilateral action on the GERD's second filling.
Cairo and Khartoum have blamed Addis Ababa's intransigence and lack of political will to agree to any legally binding deal on the filling and operation of the GERD for the failure of talks.
Egypt had described Kinshasa talks as "last chance" to reach a deal that safeguards the interests of all three parties.
Egypt and Sudan have repeatedly pursued reaching a legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the dam amid concerns that the hydropower dam will affect their water shares, but the step has been repeatedly dodged or rejected by Ethiopia.
Both downstream countries view the second filling, which aims to collect around 13.5 bcm of the Blue Nile water, as a "threat" to their interests and a "violation" to the international laws related to trans-boundary rivers.
Sudan says it suffered from a shortage in irrigation and drinking water after a total of 3.5 billion cubic metres of water were held by GERD's reservoir in only one week during the first filling last year.
Sudan had previously stressed that the GERD "will also threaten the lives of half the population in central Sudan, as well as irrigation water for agricultural projects and power generation from Roseires Dam."
However, the Ethiopian prime minister, claimed in Sunday's statement that the first filling of the dam has “undoubtedly prevented severe flooding in neighbouring Sudan.”
Following the collapse of the Kinshasa talks, Egypt and Sudan have rejected a proposal by Ethiopia for data exchange on its disputed dam, calling for reaching a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD first.
Egypt and Sudan have sent letters to the UN Security Council, explaining the latest developments on the ten-year-old crisis, and asking for pressuring Ethiopia in order not to take any unilateral action before reaching a legally binding deal.
Last month, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said he would not allow Egypt’s water rights to be compromised “by a single drop."
Earlier this month, El-Sisi said “all options are open — though it would be best if the three countries could cooperate.”
Sudan also has said that Ethiopia’s intransigence in the negotiations obliges it to consider all possible options to protect its security and its citizens as per international law.